Mauritania: making exclusive breastfeeding a priority
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - Dadda Mint Brahim, 26 years old, could barely find her way in the narrow corridors of Sebeka’s hospital maternity, where dampness and heat amplify the painful screams and moans of women delivering.
Dadda was supported by her family, community and her mother. Dadda’s mother continuously encouraged and backed her up to persevere. With that, Dadda began to see some improvement and she remembered what her mother said “ I was fully fed with plenty of milk, something that I have to do with my own child thanks to my double efforts”. In addition to maternal milk, Ely received concentrated milk and Dadda exclaimed “because of the soaring prices, I had to give him concentrated milk instead which made him sick, but do I have a choice?” Aissata Amadou, a nutrition assistant, who treated Ely advised Dadda to eat adequately several times a day and to put Ely to the breast exclusively for six months.
Training and supporting health staff to promote breastfeeding
Ouley Diop a midwife informed that the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding goes through several continued sensitization campaigns involving health workers, communities and civil society. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding has sharply dropped in Mauritania from 20% to 11% in the absence of supporting programs and strategies between 2000 and 2006. To curb this trend, Mohamed Ag Bendech, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist in Mauritania, calls for an effective implementation of the Infant and Child Feeding Strategy in association with the Accelerated Child Survival and Development Strategy and its relevant interventions and to extend partnership fostering in order to scale up.
Mobilizing communities to boost child survival
The promotion of the Baby Friendly Hospitals initiative has well clarified to the public the need to start exclusive breastfeeding an hour after birth and to continue until reaching the age of six months and that remained a key issue at the core of Health programs and a major result to be achieved. Dr. Kane of Health Ministry declared that “We are in the process of restarting with exclusive breastfeeding initiative which is a critical issue for child survival and development”.
The diversified partnership and fundraising are essential to sustain this momentum and to scale up the program. With that, Dadda and many other Mauritanian mothers have some hope now to be able learn how to properly breastfeed and to ensure the survival and development of their children.